Project Description

A new approach to vaccination is needed to identify and understand common elements of the human immune system. To achieve this goal, the Michelson Medical Research Foundation [MMRF] and its founder, Dr. Gary K. Michelson, have partnered with the Human Vaccines Project in order to harness the collective knowledge of scientists across the globe. Together, they have established the The Michelson Prizes for Human Immunology and Vaccine Research, which will help facilitate the development of groundbreaking vaccines and therapies aimed at infectious diseases and cancer.

Gary Karlin Michelson, M.D. and Alya Michelson from the Michelson Medical Research Foundation are proud sponsors of the Michelson Prizes for Human Immunology and Vaccine Research, in partnership with the Human Vaccines Project, which supports young investigators applying innovative research concepts and disruptive technologies to defeat major global diseases by significantly advancing the development of future vaccines and therapies.

Human Vaccines Project • Michelson Medical Research Foundation — 2018 Michelson Prizes for Human Immunology and Vaccine Development — Young Investigator Prizes for Vaccine Discovery — AWARDS OF 150K

2019 Michelson Prizes

September 17, 2018 | 2019 Competition Details Announced

The 2019 Michelson Prizes are intended to draw young investigators from a wide range of disciplines, including computer science, artificial intelligence/machine learning, engineering, nanotechnology, genomics, parasitology and tropical medicine.

2019 Focus Areas • Competition Details

The 2019 Michelson Prizes have been expanded to include three focus areas: Human Immunology, Computational Biology and Protein Engineering, and Neglected Parasitic Diseases. All focus areas are aimed at supporting research with the potential to transform vaccine and immunotherapy discovery.

  • Human ImmunologyThis focus area is aimed at research tackling the current roadblocks that exist in human vaccine development and expanding our limited understanding of key immune processes that are fundamental to successful vaccine and immunotherapeutics development, (e.g., immune memory, immune receptor recognition, tissue-specific responses, host-microbe interactions, underlying genetic mechanisms, genetic susceptibility, etc.).
  • Computational Biology and Protein EngineeringThis focus area targets research that utilizes bioinformatics, theoretical methods, mathematical modeling, machine learning and/or computational approaches to elucidate protein structures involved in immune recognition, immunogenicity, protein-ligand interactions, or other biological functions related to the human immune response. Other areas of research that will be considered for funding include protein design studies with the intent of generating novel structures and/or function for the development of antigens or adjuvants, and/or for modulating or targeting host proteins to elicit increased or more specific immune response(s).
  • Neglected Parasitic DiseasesThis focus area is aimed at research on antigen discovery, immune response mechanisms, and the development and testing of vaccines and immunotherapeutic agents for neglected parasitic diseases. This award is designed to foster research of human parasitic diseases that traditionally have been difficult to study due to antigen complexity and multifaceted host-parasite interactions. NB: This award will not fund malaria research.

The Prizes will be awarded as part of an annual scientific conference on the Future of Vaccine Discovery, which brings together top scientists across disciplines and disease areas.

Eligibility and Application Criteria

Applicants must be under the age of 35 at the time of pre-application submission (born on or after Oct 29, 1983) and affiliated with an academic, nonprofit, industry or government research organization. International researchers are encouraged to apply.

Applying for a Michelson Prize is a two-step process, requiring both a pre-application and full application.

  1. Applicants must submit an online pre-application that will be judged based primarily on innovation and the ability to bring new insight and approaches to vaccine-based research. Applicants may submit only one pre-application per year.
  2. Submission of a full application is by invitation only.

A rigorous and competitive global search will identify the most innovative projects from young scientists across a broad spectrum of scientific fields. Pre-applications and full applications will be reviewed by a distinguished committee of internationally-recognized research scientists. They will be looking for applicants who clearly articulate a vision that challenges current dogma and demonstrates an ability to make a lasting impact on vaccine and immunotherapy research.

While the Michelson Prizes are focused on research outcomes in the fields of vaccine and immunotherapy discovery, applicants from the full spectrum of related disciplines, including clinical research, protein engineering, biomedicine, computer science, engineering and nanotechnology are encouraged to apply.

Competition Timeline:

  • The deadline to apply for the 2019 Michelson Prizes was October 29, 2018.
  • All submitted applications for the 2019 Michelson Prizes are currently under review.
  • Applicants will be notified of their application status no later than December 18, 2018.
  • Applications for the 2020 Michelson Prizes will open August 2019.

2019 Human Vaccine Project | Michelson Prize Recipients

Dr. Kamal Mandal, Ph.D.

Dr. Kamal Mandal, Ph.D. – Dr. Mandal is a scholar in laboratory medicine and holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco. His latest research is in structural surfaceomics, helping locate proteins that could benefit cancer immunotherapy and prospective applications for other diseases. His work will help find cancer-specific conformations for immunotherapeutic targeting. 

Dr. Murad Mamedov

Dr. Murad Mamedov – After finishing a degree in biology at Georgetown University, Dr. Murad went on to do his post-doctoral fellowship in immunology at Stanford University. There, he would research the role of gamma-delta T cells during illnesses, particularly malaria. The results of his research for the Human Vaccine Project would uncover a subset of gamma-delta T cells that help the immune system protect against malaria.

Dr. Avinash Das Sahu

Dr. Avinash Das Sahu – Dr. Das Sahu is a postdoctoral researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA. The Michelson Prizes & Grants award Dr. Das Sahu received has allowed him to take bigger risks in innovative research in his high risk/high reward field area of computational biology. He is using A.I. algorithms and deep-learning frameworks to uncover new strategies in cancer immunotherapy and immunology.

A poster for the Michelson Prizes, supported by Michelson Medical. The prize goes to young vaccine researchers.

Dr. Patricia Therese Illing – A research fellow at Monash University, was the first to identify spliced peptides during a viral infection.

This work involves an innovative new approach for identifying influenza specific peptide antigens with implications for the development of vaccines against both seasonal and pandemic influenza strains.

The Prize money will provide greater resources to expand understanding of how a viral antigen is recognized by the human immune system.

Dr. Ansuman Satpathy – An instructor in pathology at Stanford University School of Medicine, is focused on combining disciplines of genomics and human immunology.

His research will identify key gene regulatory mechanisms that trigger protective immunity following vaccination using novel epigenomic sequencing technologies applied directly to patient samples.

The Prize will allow him to greatly accelerate his work, advancing both 3D and single-cell epigenetic technologies to human immunology and vaccine research.

Dr. Laura Kate Mackay – A laboratory head and senior lecturer at The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity.

She is studying a recently described subset of immune cells called tissue resident memory T cells, which combat various viral infections and cancer.

The research that will be funded by the Prize will examine immune responses by tissue resident memory T cells to harness their protective functions to improve vaccines and immunotherapies.

Past News

Gary Karlin Michelson, M.D., founder of the Michelson Medical Research Foundation

Michelson Prizes for Human Immunology and Vaccine Research

December 13, 2017 | Los Angeles and New York

About The Human Vaccines Project

The Human Vaccines Project is a nonprofit public-private partnership with a mission to decode the human immune system to accelerate the development of vaccines and immunotherapies against major infectious diseases and cancers. The Project brings together leading academic research centers, industrial partners, nonprofits and governments to address the primary scientific barriers to developing new vaccines and immunotherapies.

Support and funding for the Project includes the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Michelson Medical Research Foundation, GSK, MedImmune, Illumina, Sanofi Pasteur, Johnson and Johnson/Janssen, Pfizer, Moderna, Boehringer Ingelheim, Aeras, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, University of California San Diego, The Scripps Research Institute, J. Craig Venter Institute and La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology.

Michelson Prizes | Human Vaccines Project - Wayne Koff, PhD, President and CEO of the Human Vaccines Project

Wayne Koff, PhD, President and CEO of the Human Vaccines Project: “The Michelson Prizes support the missions of both MMRF and the Human Vaccines Project, with the ultimate goal of broadening our understanding of the human immune system to give the scientific community new tools to help prevent and control disease, potentially saving millions of lives across the world… We are honored to be collaborating with the Michelson Medical Research Foundation to implement the visionary commitment of Gary and Alya Michelson of supporting the next generation of scientific leaders on the frontiers of human immunology and vaccine research.”

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